Saturday, June 29, 2013

A good supper is not just about the food but where the food came from....

Let me explain...

We have been trying for the past couple of years to grow as much of what we eat as possible.   We have also been trying to get away for processed foods.  This is way I do not coupon like I use to.  I have learned that spending money on the basic food items that are not processed is cheaper and so much better for my family!!

So the other night when I made supper it hit me that the whole meal was from our farm!

From the Pastured Pork to the peas and the corn...all of it came from our farm.  And this is not an exceptional meal.  It's just one of many that we have on a regular basis.

It requires work but it's so worth it!!

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Get Ready...Wheat Is Coming!!

Finally...finally our wheat is getting ready to harvest!  We are so glad!  Just as long as it stops raining long enough so that we can get in and get out with our wheat berries.

We have watched since December as our wheat as grown and grown.  
Click here to see Hubby planting our wheat.

It came up and was a beautiful bright green all winter.

Then slowly, the green leaves gave way to these small seed heads which over time grew longer and started to turn brown.

Now the whole plant is a golden brown.  The fields have turned into "amber wave of grain" in the wind each day.  

The seed heads are bending over and are starting to let the wheat berries to come loose and fall out with little or no problem.


We are hoping that we will be able to sell this wheat to our friends and family to make whole wheat flour for baking!  The hardest part is getting the wheat berries clean enough but we'er getting it mastered!  This will be organic, non-GMO winter wheat.  We think it is soft red.  Hubby was given these by a friend to try and he asked about organic and GMOs but didn't know to ask about hard or soft.  So if any of you are good at telling these two apart, please come by and see if you can tell us!!

We'll set the price once we harvest.  Just stay tuned....

Friday, June 21, 2013

Our New Enterprise...The Farm Store

We are starting a new enterprise that is an off shoot of our farm.  We are opening an online store called The Farm Store!

Our feed sacks were such good bags that we couldn't just throw them out!  So a pulled out the sewing machine (well, ended up buying a new one) and started making reusable market and grocery bags with the feed sacks. 


I made the straps longer than most because every bag I seem to get has really short straps!   I even made messenger bag that is larger so that you can use it at the grocery store or farmers market!  I am also working on farmers hats to match the bags!  

While I was sewing the bags, the boys reminded me that we had all this International Harvester fabric and that they wanted me to make them some things.  I made Knox a fleece pillow attached to a fleece blanket.  It's almost like a sleeping bag minus the big ole zipper!  The pillow is to one side so that  you can still roll up in the blanket and not have to worry about the pillow getting lost.

I found a really cute IH quilt pattern that I thought would make a great Kindergarten mat for Hamp this fall.  He's going into Pre-K and will need a sleep mat for school.  (I sure wish we had sleep time at my school!)  So I made an extra thick quilt with a matching pillow and bag for him. My wonderful neighbor embroidered his name on the pillow and bag!  He will be styling this fall!!

I love my poncho!  It's just perfect on those days that its cold one minute and hot the next.  My classroom at school is always like that during the winter.  Ponchos keep you warm while giving you the ability to move around and cool down quickly if you get too hot.  This is great if you are going in and out of the heat and cold.

I have been wanting to make my own out of different designs.  That is where the IH poncho came from!  This is a one size fits all being big enough for plus size women and men and not overly big for regular size adults.  Ponchos are great to double as car blankets when you are on the road with the kiddos...

Please take the time to look at our online  The Farm Store

Come back often and remember its not too early to be thinking about Christmas presents!!

We will also have these at the Stephens County Farmers Market each week this summer...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Artist....

I have to brag....

My oldest did one of the most incredible drawings in art class this spring!

It's hard to believe that my Knox did this!

I have it where I can see it everyday!

He is a talented young man and I just hope he keeps working on his talent... 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Daily Adventures....June 15, 2013

Stephens County Farmers Market was great today!  Busy, busy, busy....  We sold a little bit of everything and saw a lot of folks.  We gave out free samples of our Pastured Poultry.  I always love seeing the looks on their faces when they taste our chicken for the first time!  The flavor is amazing and they are astonished at the just how much natural flavor these chickens have.  Most people are amazed that we put no seasoning of any kind, not even salt or pepper, when we cook them.

We showed off our Feed Sack grocery bags and messenger bags.  I have even tried making some hats from the feed sacks.  The hat is not quite ready, but I'm on the right track!  It won't be long before you can purchase bags and matching hats from our farm....

When we got back, Knox found a visitor in the hen house...a black snake!  We love having black and king snakes around the farm.  They are great to keep the rats down and keeping the rattlesnakes at bay.  But once they get a taste of chicken eggs, it's time to get rid of them.

The problem was Hubby and I couldn't kill the snake.  We spent quite a few minutes trying to get the snake out.  The hens were going crazy!  Once we got him out, we just couldn't get kill we let him go.

We still have a problem...the black snake has turned into a chicken snake.  How are we going to keep the snake out of the eggs?  So I went to the hardware store and purchased some moth balls.  I put the moth balls under the hen house.  We have used this before.  It seems to keep the snakes and sometimes the mice out of the hen house.  

But since the snake excitement, our laying hens have been going all over the orchard and around the house trying to find other places to nest.  Poor hens are just act so lost!  After a few days, they'll hopefully settle down and go back to their nesting boxes in the hen house.

We'll keep you informed...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Daily Adventures...June 13, 2013

We've finally got some hot weather.  It's also dried out for a few days now but we have gotten a few brief showers...somewhere at about 2 inches of rain.  The hot weather also has brought some humidity.  The one thing that makes it tough on not only humans but animals especially our chickens.

We found one of our laying hens dead today.  Not sure what killed her.  It could have been the heat or more likely she was embedded with an egg.  These hens have a history of this with us.  We find one or two a year that have died.

We also found a dead chick in the brooder dead.  Knox had noticed one limping the day before.  Not sure if that was the same one, but we feel it was.  I noticed today that we have 3 more with some leg problems.  I added some extra kelp to their diets.  I think they are just eating more than usual and are in need of some extra nutrients.  We'll keep an eye on them until we more them on the pasture.

We had a good day at the Stephens County Farmers Market Wednesday.  We are tying to be there every Wednesday and Saturday.  We only sold some grits but we got to see a lot of people and that's a good thing.  Letting people know you are there is sometimes the best advertisement.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Daily Adventures...June 10, 2013

Sunday, it seemed to rain all day!  It didn't start raining until after church, but the rain made it a perfect day for a Sunday afternoon nap.

When we made it to the pasture to check on the chickens, it was so wet.  It rained most of the evening Saturday and again this afternoon.  I haven't checked the rain gauge because it's suppose to rain again tonight!

Since it was so wet, we made the decision not to move the big pens.  Where we are on the pasture at this moment is where Hubby removed a lot of debris and the ground has not got its grass growing really good yet.  Hopefully by tomorrow we can move without leaving a mud trail...

We are still having a time with chicken escapees.  These escapee bail jumpers are just walking through the fence!  Not sure what is happening.  Knox and I spent a good deal of time trying to get the fence to charge, but we're not sure where it's grounding out and not charging the fence.  We're confounded why the fence is not charging!  Hubby is going to have to help with this one.... 

I had to put our layers on a diet.  These hens were getting so fat that they weren't laying.  I was getting only an average of 3 eggs a day.  There are 13 hens so I should be getting a lot more than that!  The newest hens are the fat ones and are barely leaving the hen coop.

Since being on their "diet", they have been laying more.  We are now up to an average of 5 eggs per day and even up to 9 eggs on some days.  We have not only been keeping feed in their feeder, but have been throwing out feed in the orchard.  This is getting the new hens to explore and feed away from the chicken coop more.  They are finding their way to the wheat field and our back porch.   It's taken a month, but the new hens are starting to act like the layers that we want them to be!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Daily Adventures....June 8, 2013

We got another inch and one-forth of rain.  That's how much I emptied out of the rain gauge this afternoon.  And after watching the news tonight, we are in the path system of rain heading our way tomorrow.  Wow...I can just see the mosquitoes growing!  It's just going to be ugly buggy summer...

We decided to move Batch 1 Summer and the goats before the rain sets in again.  Batch 1 Summer are in the portable fence.  Since their pen is so big, we must move them all out of the fence and pen before we hook up to the tractor and move.  The chickens get to roam all over the pasture while we get their "home" set back up in its new spot.

After everything is set up, we have to round up the chickens.  Today Hubby came down to help Knox and I round up.  It's nice to have that one extra person to round up the chicks and head them in the right direction.  

This Batch is getting to be old pros!  We use long staffs that we use to direct the chicks.  We don't hit the chicks, we only hit the ground and the chicks move in the opposite direction.  This Batch as gotten so use to how we use the staffs, that we only have to raise them and they start moving!  It took no time at all to get them all in...well at least the bulk of them.  We always have a straggler or two!

Our big excitement today was we killed a copperhead!  Knox noticed it when we moved the goat pen.  But when we started looking for it, we couldn't find it.  I told him that he was just seeing things.  A little bit later, Knox found it!  It was only about a foot long and probably not real harmful yet but we didn't want to take the chance with the goats or the chickens.

Snakes are good to have on any farm.  We always have a few black snakes and king snakes that we like to see around the farm.  But we will kill any snakes that we see killing our animals or getting our chicken eggs.  This happened this fall when Hubby found a black snake killing our pet rabbit!  Once he killed it we noticed that we were finding more eggs.  It had become a chicken snake and thought the poor white rabbit was a big ole egg!

We try to keep moth balls around our chicken coop to stop the snakes.  This one had started getting the eggs before I was able to replenish our moth balls.  Ever since, I have been trying to keep moth balls and diatomaceous earth.  This seems to be working but with all the rain, their not lasting as long...  

We'll just keep on farming....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Daily Adventures...June 7, 2013

The consistent rain showers are great for the pastures and garden but are making the feeding and moving of chickens a race.  It maybe a race each day but it's not a fair race.  It's a race that you don't know when it starts or stops!

Today we had to race to beat the rain!  I would really hate to farm without a weather radar.  That's how I saw that the rain was coming.  When I went to get Knox, he thought I was crazy!  The sky was a beautiful blue with fluffy clouds.  Not the sky that was about to leave more rain.  But as we feed and cleaned waterers, the fluffy white clouds quickly changed to dark drooping clouds that brought a cool wind smelling of rain.

After we moved Batch 2 Summer CSA and put the goats up with their feed, the rain started.  Once we got the tractor parked and the extra feed put under the shed, it was as if someone unzipped the dark clouds and let all that rain out!

The day before it rained off and on so much that we made the decision to just top off feed and wait until today to move pens.  So we couldn't let the rain stop us!  And we were just in time!

Yesterday I emptied the rain gauge.  There was one inch in the gauge.  I'm interested in seeing how much there will be after this rain!   

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Daily Adventures....June 5, 2013

We now have new animals on the farm.  The boys and I are starting to grow....worms!

We went to a vermiculture class today.  It was sponsored by the County Extension Service.  We learned about what kind of worms to use, what they eat, and how they turn food scraps/paper into wonderful soil amendments.   

The boys got to make the worm house and fix their bedding.  

Hamp really enjoyed picking out our new worms from the dirt pile.  He wanted to play with them instead of putting them in their new home!

We can't wait until we get to put all the "worm poop" on our garden!  This is really good stuff for our plants and especially our soil!  Don't you just love our new pets....

This afternoon we got everyone on the pasture moved just before the bottom fell out of sky!  When we got to the chickens, we found Batch 1 Summer CSA with 8 chicks out side the fence. Thought at first they were getting out because they were eating all their feed.  But when we check, they still had feed in the feeder.  The others were let out and we moved their pen and fence.

Knox and I had a time trying to get all the chicks back in the fence!  They just didn't want to go back!  After running from one side of the pasture to another chasing chickens, we were finally able to get them all back in the fence.  

Once we got them back in the fence, we noticed a group of them gathered around a spot by the fence.  When I went to investigate, I found the chicks were going crazy over a fire ant hill...

We just love watching these chickens go after the fire ants!  When we check them tomorrow, there won't be a fire ant inside the fence...

Yesterday, Hamp and I had a good time at the Senior Farmers Market.  We got to see a lot of old friends and sold a few things too.  We plan on being their as much as we can this summer.

We're bracing for more rain tonight and tomorrow.  Hopefully Batch 2 Summer CSA will be able to make it through any gully washers along with everybody else...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Daily Adventures...June 3, 2013

For the last 24 hours, it has rained on and off.   Our rain gauge read 1 1/4" when I emptied it this afternoon.  Yesterday evening it came a gully washer at one point between the constant on and off sprinkles most of the day.  We made the decision to just add feed and let everybody on the pasture stay put.  This way they were able to keep some dry areas.

With the rain, I forgot to gather eggs yesterday.  So today when I went to do my egg collection, I found 7 eggs!  I have been averaging 3 eggs per day for 13 hens.  Not so great.  After talking with our hatchery, we decided to hold back feed.  Our hens are on a diet!  Yep, we're trying to get our fat hens to be skinny hens.  

Let me explain...we are using Freedom Ranger hens that are breed for broilers (meat chickens).  So they convert feed more into meat than eggs.  Once we hold feed back from them and get them to forage more, then they will put more energy into producing eggs instead of producing meat.  It has been working.  I have been getting more eggs, but still not the number that I would like every day.

When we made it out to the pasture this evening, we found 6 chicks out of the electric fence.  We weren't sure how they got out but realized that some of they flew over the fence as we tried rounding up the escapees.  We think some went under the fence.  As the fence was being put up Saturday, it was hard to put the poles in the ground because of how dry the topsoil was.  The rain Sunday and this morning was enough to soften up the topsoil.  This allowed us to push the poles in the ground and block some of the spots that caused the hens to be escapees.

After moving Batch 2 Summer CSA chicks, we realized that the goats would have to be moved.  The goats would have been too close to the pen and would spend most of the day trying to get on top.  In doing this, the goats could easily damage the pen without meaning to...just trying to be goats!  Goats love to climb.  Since we have them chained (for their own safety) we try to make sure they have enough room to roam without getting choked!  This move was for their safety and the pens safety too!

As I said above, Batch 2 Summer CSA chicks were moved today.  This was their first move!  First moves are always the trickiest.  This move was no different...  It took us twice as long as normal with half of the chicks ending up outside the pen after the move.   What happens is the little boogers start moving around, bending down to scratch and peck.  Once they bend down, the pen goes right over them.  They have complete looks of shock when they look up from eating and notice that the pen is gone!

Knox and I started rounding up the chicks.  We had a little help today...Hamp decided to come with us.  I'm not sure if you would say Hamp helps get the chicks rounded up, but at least he getting better at catching the ones that get away from the round up.  We got them in...all safe and sound!

I picked up 1200 lbs of feed today.  This should keep us in feed for the next month or so.  I hate going on a weekly bases to get feed, so I try to get at least a month's worth at a time.  This helps with saving on gas and my time.  It's worked really good for us.  I really wish we had a feed mill closer....   

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Feed Wagon

Knox is always looking for ways to drive any and everything that has wheels around the farm!

This is what he has been doing with the feed wagon when we get back from the pasture...

Anybody else have flashes of Forrest Gump???

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daily Adventures...June 1, 2013

We had a great day at the Stephens County Farmers Market!  We were able to see our CSA families and hopefully get more families interested in Pastured Poultry.  Saturday, we gave out free samples of our Pastured Pork Sausage.  

It's wonderful to watch people's faces when they try Pastured Meat for the first time!  They don't realize just how plain mainstream meat is!  The flavor of Pastured Meat just can't be beat and it's amazing how you use less flavoring and seasonings on your meat.  We are planning to give out samples at least every Saturday in June.

We also started selling stone ground cornmeal and grits from Timms Mill.  This is a water powered mill that has been in operation since 1784.  We will be having these all summer at the Farmers Market.

We lost 11 chicks to the sneaky varmint that has been getting our Batch 2 Summer CSA.  Twenty one chicks made the move today to the pasture to finish growing.  They were really excited when we put them in the pen...eating and chasing bugs from the get go!  The only thing that upset them was when the goats got in the pen as we were cleaning waterers and adding feed.  

Batch 1 Summer CSA, who had been in the pen that Batch 2 Summer CSA went into, got to do some free ranging on the pasture as we got their pen and fence ready.  After we moved the pen and re-strung the fence, Batch 1 was ready to go into their new home!  Knox and I did some modified cowboy wrangling to round up the chickens and get them into the safety of their new home.  We only had three that did not want to go in.  I guess they thought they would be fine outside the fence and pen!

Of course, we also let Billy and Buddy (our goats) run loose as we moved their house.  They stayed loose until we finished getting the chickens settled in their new homes.  Its just fun to watch the two of them run around and aggravating to try to keep them out of the chicken feed!

The weatherman is calling for rain tomorrow...we'll see how our new chicks will fair in the rain.  They have shelter but it is still makes us nervous we it rains just after putting new chicks on the pasture...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Daily Adventures...May 31, 2013

We lost more chicks last night!!  Ugh....  Whatever is getting these chicks is just plain sneaky!  We cannot find where they are getting into the chicken wire to pull out the chicks.  Somehow they are reaching in and pulling out the chicks without stretching the wire.  Thank goodness we are putting these chicks on the pasture tomorrow!  We have them right now in the quail pen on the orchard until we process our next batch...

We processed our last batch of our Spring CSA tonight!  A total of 25 chickens were processed.  We got to try out our new toy...a vacuum sealer!  One thing that has bothered us is packing after we process.  In the grocery store, most whole chickens are vacuum packed after they are processed.  We also wanted a way that would allow our chickens to last as long as possible when our customers freeze them.

It worked great!  Well, after we learned what we were doing... We did have a few that didn't seal too well.  But all in all we got the hang of it and were able to doing some vacuum sealing!

Our Batch 3 Summer CSA we able to move out of the small end of the brooder and into the biggest part of the brooder.  They seemed unsure at first but are loving it now!  They are still too small to move the pasture but we like to give them move space to learn to scratch and flap their wings.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Daily Adventures... May 30th

It was another adventurous day on the farm....

Knox and I started out to the field to do the daily feeding and watering when we were caught off guard.  Hamp decided that he wasn't going to ride the tractor but petal his tricycle to the field!
Personally I didn't think he would make it past the shop but what do I know... 

As Knox and I were taking care of the chickens, I heard Knox laughing.  I looked up and Hamp was coming around the barn on his tricycle!  The Little Booger had petaled his tricycle all the way to the field!

We kept working while still keeping a watch on Hamp.  He was heading down toward the bottom of the pasture.  Knox and I were in the middle of the pasture watching Hamp get on his tricycle, petal a little ways, and then he and the tricycle falling over.  I yelled out to him, asking where he was going.  He pointed right to me but had the tricycle pointing 90 degrees opposite still toward the bottom of the pasture. 

I yelled out, "Why don't you turn your tricycle this way?"

With a puzzled look and then a "that's not a bad idea" look, Hamp rotated the tricycle toward his brother and me.  He then preceeded to petal toward us over the high, lumpy grass and terraces.

Knox and I had finished our chores by this time.  So we made our way over to Hamp to help him and his tricycle back up the hill to the house.   Hamp got in the cart behind the tractor and Knox, well, he had another plan...

Knox decided that he would get on Hamp's tricycle and hold on to the cart as I pulled them up the hill.  Now to Knox, this was brillant idea.  To me, well...let's just say he takes after his father...  As we went up the hill, Knox kept falling off either tricycle every few yards.  I just put the tractor in a lower gear and let him catch back up with us. 

We are having something getting our Batch 2 Summer CSA chicks.  Whatever it is, it's pulling them through the chicken wire and leaving the head, wings and feet.  We lost possibly two chicks.  With fragments only left, we're not sure how many exactly.  Hopefully, we won't loose anymore...